The Loh Life

The Wild Party, Part Two: Hawaii

Sandra Tsing Loh's take on kids' birthday parties.

My tween daughter Suzy procrastinates - But, not for want of enthusiasm.  Indeed, there seems to be a correlation between how long she puts things off and how awesome she swears things are going to be.

There was the Hawaii project - !  She had 12 weeks to work on it - The first 11 were spent brainstorming - About the exploding Mentos volcano, hula dancers and motorized shark leaping out of a game board!  Sunday before, there's the frantic visit to Michael's, and then the day before - The day before - ! When I pick her up after school and ask how it's going, she sunnily announces great, quote unquote, "I'm almost finished with my final draft."  It's Mommy typing 'til midnight time again.

And yes, I suppose I should let her fail and suffer the consequences - But if she doesn't graduate, she'll be living with me forever - !

But now comes her 12th birthday party, and -

My two daughters' birthday parties have somewhat fraught histories.

I admit I'm the sort of mom who goes way overboard.  One infamous party was 40 kids with Nerf bats, a water cannon, jumpy house, and my four-year-old sitting in a Princess dress crying about, well, the crowd.

Their father - as is often the case - is more sensible.  He'll limit the guest list to six, and trust the girls to handle the invites themselves.  But, unlike their helicopter mom - who will send out Save The Dates six weeks in advance - my girls give their friends two days' lead time, and as a result, each daughter has reaped a birthday at their dad's house where only one guest came and she cried.

Although we try to laugh about it:

"Oh, oh, oh - Even worse was when just half a child came.  The bottom half, the legs, walking up the porch!"

In the last three years for Suzy, then, I created the extremely reliable mini-golf birthday party - Same friends every year, younger siblings welcome, pizza, lemonade, cake, one golf club and ball, 10 tokens per kid, and you're done -

But, first year in middle school, she wants to give up childish things.

What Suzy is envisioning is Friday night, 6 to 10, co-ed sleepover, all 40 kids from her science academy, a cookie-decorating contest, a baby food-tasting contest and a marshmallow-eating contest called Chubby Monkey she saw on YouTube.  She has been talking it up amongst the other giddy sixth graders.

Small wrinkle: none of their parents know because one week before, no actual invite has been handed to anyone.

Unless these kids learn to drive, and quickly, my tween daughter will spend her birthday alone!  THAT will be fun.

Next week: Ride of the Valkyries - Helicopter Mom Choppers In.


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